NFU Scotland (Meetings)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government when it last met NFU Scotland and what was discussed. (S5O-03097)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I met NFUS on 21 March and my colleague, Roseanna Cunningham, also met NFUS on that date. We meet officials and office bearers regularly.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

Farmers in the north-east have been impacted by record levels of fly-tipping. As Murdo Fraser highlighted earlier, the burden of clean-up falls on farmers, on pain of being fined. What will the Scottish Government do to support farmers in the region to respond to fly tipping? Given that just one in 600 cases in Aberdeenshire results in conviction, does the cabinet secretary agree that the law needs strengthened?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I believe that the matter is actually dealt with by my colleague, Roseanna Cunningham; indeed, it was raised during the immediately preceding session of portfolio questions on environment, climate change and land reform. That said, I entirely agree that this is an extremely serious matter. Fly tipping is a form of criminal activity. It is selfish and it has a huge impact on farmers. People who do it should be, frankly, ashamed of themselves and I hope that those who do it are caught.

As the member knows, the evidential requirement is a difficult matter, particularly in rural Scotland, where there tends to be a lack of eye witnesses to such behaviour. I have no hesitation in condemning such behaviour. I have recently had meetings with the police in relation to rural crime and I know that they take these matters very seriously—and rightly so.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

As the cabinet secretary will be aware, NFUS has expressed serious concerns about the increasing numbers of migrant greylag geese, which are affecting a number of communities around the country, including Orkney.

Will the cabinet secretary lend his support to efforts to get Scottish Natural Heritage, NFUS and other partners to look at ways of extending the adaptive management scheme programmes, so that the issue can be dealt with more effectively?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Again, I think that the matter is specifically within the portfolio responsibility of my colleague, Roseanna Cunningham. However, I am aware of the issue and have followed the recent publicity about the burgeoning numbers of greylag geese and the serious issue that they pose for Mr McArthur’s farmers—several of whom I met on a visit in the not-too-distant past. I respect the great work that Orcadian farmers do and the high quality of the produce with which they provide Scotland.

Therefore, I have no hesitation in agreeing that we should encourage all parties—including SNH—to see whether a solution that is congenial to Mr McArthur’s constituents can be found.